September 20, 2017 / 7:50 AM / a year ago

Liberty House looks to shore up power supply for Australian steel works

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The family behind Liberty House has agreed to tie-up with an Australian renewable energy firm, looking to beef up electricity supply for the Arrium steel business that the British company recently took over in power-strained South Australia.

FILE PHOTO: Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group, poses for a photo at the company's Dubai office, UAE June 19, 2016. REUTERS/David French

British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance agreed to buy a 50.1 percent stake in Zen Energy, which up to now has focused on solar power and battery storage for homes and small businesses, for an undisclosed sum.

Liberty House is part of the GFG Alliance.

The joint venture, to be renamed SIMEC Zen Energy, will work with GFG Alliance’s SIMEC Energy, to develop new large scale energy projects, including solar, battery storage and pumped hydro facilities.

“The high cost of energy for Australian consumers is debilitating for the economy and a crying shame for a country so rich in resources,” Gupta said in a statement.

Wind energy-dependent South Australia has been hit by power price spikes and a string of blackouts over the past year that shut down industrial operations, including Arrium’s Whyalla plant and top global miner BHP’s Olympic Dam copper mine.

The state has taken a number of steps to try to shore up power, including backing construction by Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) of the world’s biggest battery at a wind farm in the state.

SIMEC Energy has 600 megawatts of power assets in Britain and is developing a further 400 MW, in biofuels, hydro, tidal, wind and solar.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin

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